Another reason why I love my Honda Fit & husband

Saturday night’s storm knocked out our electricity and there was so much snow, we couldn’t get out the driveway. Normally this wouldn’t have been a big deal, but I promised an editor a bunch of stuff would be delivered this morning and the battery on my laptop was drained dry. Big problem, frantic author.

Beloved Husband to the rescue! Scot is an old school Yankee tinkerer, a slightly-aged Boy Scout who loves improvising, and he saved the day.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic He turned my little red car into an office.

First he cracked open the doors of the garage so I wouldn’t asphyxiate. Turned on my lovely car (it often gets 40 miles per gallon, btw) and cranked the heat. Plugged the inverter into the 12-volt jack (the thing we used to call a cigarette lighter). Plugged my laptop into the inverter. Carried down all of my research books and stacked them on the passenger seat. Fired up the laptop.

I worked out there all morning, enjoyed the tea that Scot brought out at 10:30am. When the power came back on at lunchtime, I moved into the house and kept working without missing a beat. Wrote until dinner and a little bit after that and accomplished my goal.

As promised, this week I’ll answer some of the writing process questions. that you guys have sent in. Today’s questions come from who writes: Do you ever have to adjust the overall pacing of the story, and if so how do you approach that?

Once the stinky first draft is done, I do a lot of tinkering with the pacing. It takes a little time to get the perspective that allows me to see the entire story, but once I can, I examine each thread of the story to make sure the events that pull it forward unfold in a way that makes sense, both for that thread and for the larger story. I make a time line of events on a huge sheet of paper. Once I see things on the time line, I usually make changes; speeding up some sections, slowing down others.

How do you think through making a character change over the course of a novel?

To be honest, I don’t give that part much thought. I focus on creating situations that force the character out of her/his comfort zone, raising the emotional stakes as I go along. If I’ve developed conflicts that are organic and in keeping with the character’s world, her/his response to the conflicts will naturally lead to internal growth.

More tomorrow. Right now I have more writing to do, and a long run later if I’m a very good girl. It’s ten degrees outside… I’ll be running on a treadmill.

Not my favorite thing

I am preparing my taxes for my accountant.

I am mathematically-challenged. This is a root canal without anesthesia.

Tax season is when being self-employed and having to find all the receipts and add everything up in neat columns of numbers that do not change when you double-check them suddenly seems like a very silly idea.

I’ll post the last Chattanooga pics and return to a state of cheerfulness when I’m finished.

Chooing in Chattanooga

I have to admit, I was ignorant. I had no idea Chattanooga was so lovely and filled with exciting things and sweet people. This place needs to go on the Roadtrip Vacation List!

Yesterday I talked to students at Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences and Tyner High. (Yes, yes, I know I am technically on hiatus from school visits, but this trip were arranged through the A Tale for One City program, so it’s different.)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Do they look like Monday morning, or what? They were actually much more lively than this picture looks. It was really nice to hang out with kids again. (Special thanks to the kids who came over from Howard!)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic CSAS is in a historic building and some of the lockers are wooden. Gives the expression “old school” new meaning.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic After CSAS, my wonderful host, Fran Bender, took me to the Art District for lunch at a coffee shop and quick walk through the museum neighborhood. Then it was on to Tyner.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The students at Tyner were some of the friendliest I have ever had the good fortune to run across.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Some of the guys instantly freeze into GQ cover model positions whenever they feel a camera on them.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The girl on the left wins the “most thoughtful and insightful questions of the decade” award.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Thank you everyone for making the day so much fun!!

Long day today – more schools and my public presentation tonight.

I leave you with John Scalzi’s article about the financial realities of the writing life, not to discourage any of you from becoming writers, but so you know what you’re getting into. If you are seriously contemplating writing as a career, you owe it to yourself to read the entire article. Thank you, Stef, for the link.

Finally, thank you, for the heads-up about the extremely nice review of TWISTED in the Drew University Campus newspaper, The Acorn.

Oh – one last thing. Dinner last night? Shrimp and grits. Heaven – just heaven.

My coffee cup runneth over

I live a charmed life. There is no doubt.

In the last 48 hours, friends of mine in the publishing world, in education, fellow writers, relatives, high school buddies, readers, and students getting by on ramen noodles have contributed a total of $1,100 to our race effort!!! That means we are already more than 20% of the way to our goal of $5,000!

I am stunned and humbled.

I got a little teary-eyed yesterday as I read through emails from people who have lost dearly loved parents, siblings, and children to cancer. It feels like everyone is touched by this and reminded me again why our effort is important.

Thank you all very, very much. If you haven’t donated yet, please go to the Laurie Halse Anderson Team Website and contribute. If you want to support the guy-side of this effort, go to my husband’s site and give money there. The totally awesome Nancy Werlin donated to Scot, so if you give on his side of the ledger, you’ll be in extremely good company.

If you can’t afford to donate (I totally understand – been there and have the tee-shirt), please help out by blogging about our cause and bugging your friends who have so much money they can afford to blow three dollars on a cup of coffee. You know who I’m talking about.

(For the record, we ran at the gym yesterday. BH ran 5 miles. I only ran 3 because my knee was a little squeaky.)

Along with the fundraising email, yesterday marked the official beginning to The Busy Season. This Spring I am traveling to Chattanooga, TN (they’re reading SPEAK for One City/One Book), Springfield, IL (Illinois Reading Council), Nashua, NH (SCBWI New England), and San Jose, CA for writing workshops.

In addition, I have a new picture book coming out in June that has such a gorgeous cover I can’t wait any longer to show you.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

What do you think? (I’ll be giving more info about the content of the book and some sneak pictures of the inside soon.) I’ve been working on this project for a veeeeeeeeery long time. It’s hard to believe it’s actually coming out.

Dang!! I was jumping up and down so hard I spilled the coffee again.

I have miles to go before I sleep tonight: chapters to revise, a gazillion emails, and new material I have to generate for the website. Thanks again for a great kick-off to the race in June. Please wish me luck with the Revision Race of February.

edited to add Today is Langston Hughes’ birthday, one of my favorite poets and guiding lights.

Lake Placid Half-Marathon countdown: 136 days

An award list to dance to & how running helps my writing

Thank you, thank you American Library Association committee members!!!!

I am very proud that TWISTED made both the 2008 Best Books for Young Adults and the 2008 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers lists!!!!

This feels awesome. Excuse me while I take a moment to bask.

Ahhh. So, so sweet.

OK, back to work. I have spent the day rewriting Chapter 19, because the same thing happened to that chapter as happened to 17 on Sunday. But it’s all good.

nudged me about answering a question she posted to my Facebook a while back. She wrote: Do you think that running/excersize helps your creativity/creative process?

(Truth in blogging disclosure: I just finished a carb-heavy lunch and am staring at my clothes that are laid out for this afternoon’s long run. It promises to be a chilly one.)

Does my running help my writing? Yes. Absolutely. No doubt. Ja. Si. Absolutement.

If I ever write a book about writing (do you think I should do that, BTW??), it will contain long passages about how moving your body fires up your imagination. For now, here are my top five reasons why my running helps my writing:

1. Running makes me happy, thus, it is a very good reward and incentive to do my work.

2. When I write, I am a) sitting still and b) dangerously close to my kitchen. If I didn’t exercise regularly (and trust me, there have been times in my life when I didn’t) I eat more than my body needs. This slows down my brain and expands my rear end.

3. Running is a meditative exercise – it helps me process my stress in a healthy way.

4. My travel schedule is often grueling. Running (and weight lifting, which I don’t talk about much, but I do, too) keeps me physically stronger and better able to fight off the germs that try to attack unsuspecting travelers.

5. Running has helped me develop mental discipline, which allows me to stay immersed in my stories longer. I have several writing/running mantras that I repeat in my head when I am tempted to stop writing or hit the Stop button on the treadmill.

6. Yes, this is a bonus reason. The human body was designed to move. If we want our minds and spirits to produce their best, we have to help our bodies be the best they can be, too. It’s all connected.

(Thank you for the nudge, )

Now, I have three more pages and a long stretch of road ahead of me.